Kenzo Takada, Who Brought Japanese Fashion to the World, Dies at 81

“His first fashion shows were memorable,” Mr. Gabet said. “Light and playful, with models more dancing and walking than presenting clothes, faraway from the hierarchical vision of French couture.”

Known for his sense of fun, Mr. Takada — who disliked being known as a “Japanese designer” since he considered himself a “fashion designer” first — staged shows in a circus tent, and with himself riding an elephant. They were “legendary, and the toughest ticket in town,” said Gene Pressman, former co-chief executive of Barney’s. “He was a cult figure for the young and young-hearted.”

Mr. Takada introduced men’s wear in 1983, a jeans line in 1986 and perfume in 1988, but by 1993, struggling after his life partner died and his business partner had a stroke, Mr. Takada decided to sell his company to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the French fashion conglomerate, for approximately $80 million. Though he initially

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